The adventure continues for a pair of east bay brothers. Mirthmaker’s original port of registry is Berkeley, CA where she’ll eventually make her homecoming voyage.
1979 J/24 manufactured in San Rafael, CA USA by Performance Sailcraft (Don Trask)
Learning to sail on the SF Bay was a handful of logistics and effort, and my key would be a lane splitting motorcycle. During the first beer can sailing season (informal racing, where skippers and available crew pair up, hence the crew bringing along the beer), my friend and i would meet at Coyote Point Yacht Club. Skippers meeting start at 17:00 with boats out of the marina in an hour, rounding the mark and cruising back at 20:00 facing the sunset. It was a wonderful feeling sitting on the rail of the lead boat, squinting into the sunset and tossing back a cool amber.
The following winter, my friend and i would be come boat partner after going in together on Mirthmaker, a 1979 J24 manufactured by Performance Sailcraft in San Rafael, CA and begin the process of baselining her systems for her maiden voyage.
The boat was docked north of SFO airport, now much further north than Coyote Point, and i would continue to come from the South Bay. During the summer season on work days, i would hustle all day at the factory and be out on the moto jamming north. My preferred route was straight up the 85 until it hit the 101 forming a double carpool lane next to an inch of shoulder and concrete center divide. Thus #moto2sail became the modus of getting hours on the water through many sunset cruises.
If flowing normally without any accidents, northbound 101 during rush hour backs up to a crawl in precisely 2 spots before reaching SFO, just south of the 84, and again just south of the 91. Lane splitting in the carpool lane nowadays involves splitting with pearly white shuttle buses and silent electric vehicles. There’s really only just off the paint to ride and split in these gridlock sections, so running a 10mph delta or so, slightly weaving to indicate depth and speed in car mirrors, and definitely dropped down a gear and ready to chop the throttle, is how i like to filter through. Aftermarket pipes for sure on the street. (LeoVince titanium high-mount on the v-twin SVeetfighter.)
The advantage of a moto and lane splitting (only in California my friends; and now most recently Utah) manifested #moto2sail, where i’d already have stored sailing attire (boat shoes, polyester slacks, PFD, foul weather suit) below deck and ready to go. Then toss my helmet, jacket, and riding gear into the dock box and we’d be ready to push off as thankfully, my partner was coming from San Bruno and took care of much of the preparation like selecting and fastening the jib and running her sheets; he’d also have the snacks and drinks on board after scooping them up in his car. (On weekend sails, i would reciprocate for sure.)
It’s the only means of getting to the boat by 18:00, on the water sailing and training our points of sail, then cruising back towards the setting sun after 20:00. Unless you know someone with a helicopter. And lastly, the home run up our channel was always a reliable upwind effort, to bookend each and every outing, because we’d be trying to point as high as possible and even tack through the channel on motor and main sail.
On Mirthmaker we ran a lightweight Mercury 3.5hp outboard, bolted to the transom mount and slightly offset of the rudder to the port side. With her shaft dropped in the water and in the lowest position, the hull would sometimes heel over enough on strong port tacks to pull the motor’s impeller out of the water. Especially when weight distribution consisted of just 2 sailors on the boat with one was towards the front working with the jib.
Above all, boat ownership solidified a boat partnership, which are unspoken responsibilities to partners having each others backs while at sea. The loyalty easily extends to land and family.